Ventura County – The Farmer’s Market in the tranquil city of Ojai is a weekly event that brings community members together to engage in commerce and sharing of the bountiful fruits and vegetables grown by local citizens in a relaxing, casual setting. It’s not a place where one anticipates criminal activity, but on July 26th, that’s exactly what surfaced among the bins of tomatoes, avocados, and local honey.
It was on that day, in broad daylight, when, according to Ventura County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Detective Will Hollowell, “an unknown suspect stole a ‘fanny pack’” from an unlocked vehicle parked in a public lot immediately adjacent to the festive atmosphere of the Farmer’s Market. When the victim alerted law enforcement to the theft, the items inside the fanny pack were specifically identified, one of which was the police badge of a deceased New York Police Department officer.
On that same day, detectives became aware that credit cards stolen along with the NYPD badge were being used at retail establishments throughout Ventura and Oxnard. But when the thief made these numerous fraudulent transactions, surveillance video within the retail establishments clearly recorded his appearance. Using one of those video clips, VCSD detectives broadcast the video across various social media internet channels, with an appeal for public help to identify the suspect.
After more than two weeks of investigation, on August 17th authorities were made aware of the identity and location of Rommel Rosales-Santoyo, a resident of nearby Santa Paula. Rosales-Santoyo was contacted the same day by deputies and found to be in possession of the stolen NYPD badge and the victim’s stolen wallet. He was arrested and transported to Ventura County Jail, where he was booked on charges of grand theft with his bail set at $55,000. The suspect had been arrested last year, on February 25, 2014 for disorderly conduct – public intoxication, possession of drug paraphernalia, and tampering with a vehicle. He lived in Santa Barbara at that time.
Photo: courtesy www.discoverojai.com